El Paso ranks 52nd in higher-education attainment levels among largest cities in U.S., study finds

El Paso News

A student sits alone during in-person class at the Republic of Argentina secondary school in Iztacalco, Mexico City, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. School begins for millions of Mexican children Monday, but who sits inside a classroom, who continues studying online from home and who simply doesn’t return remains to be seen as a new school year gets underway in the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Higher-educational attainment in the United States has been enhanced over the decades, but data shows El Paso is not keeping up with other large cities who have more residents pursuing college level degrees.

A new study finds that El Paso is the fourth least education large city in the U.S.

El Paso residents complete about 12.2 years of education on average, the study found, compared to the national average of 13.4 years.

Overall, 16.9 percent of El Pasoans’ highest level of education is a bachelor’s degree, while only 7.4 percent earn a graduate or professional degree. 

The pandemic is complicating educational attainment, with many students (and potential students) weighing the benefits of pursuing higher education amid mounting debt and the rising cost of college.

The nation’s student debt in 2020 was about $1.4 trillion, which is the second-largest debt pool following mortgages. 

Moreover, the acreage cost of college more than doubled between 1985 and 2019, as median household income rose by 28 percent. 

Despite these shifts, almost 70 percent of recent high school graduates enroll in college.

The situation is precarious for students but data from the Federal Reserve’s Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households suggest most college graduates believe the benefits of earning college degrees outweigh the costs.

The study’s researchers analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data and calculated a composite score (0 to 100) based on the average number of completed years of resident education to identify the cities with the highest level of educational attainment.

Below is a data summary of El Paso’s statistics compared to national averages:

El Paso averageNational average
Composite score: 43.3Composite score: 58.6
Average number of education years: 12.2Average number of education years: 13.4
Graduate or professional degree: 7.4%Graduate or professional degree: 12.8%
Bachelor’s degree only: 16.9%Bachelor’s degree only: 20.3%
Associate’s degree only: 9.4%Associate’s degree only: 8.6%
High school diploma only: 25.0%High school diploma only: 26.9%
Less than a high school diploma: 18.8%Less than a high school diploma: 11.4%
Sources: Federal Reserve’s 2020 Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households report; U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey

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